People who come to this country and apply for asylum do so because they are seeking to leave their country to live in a safe environment free of racial, national, social,  religious and political persecution.  These people fear returning to their country will result in death, incarceration or torture.  People who come to this country and apply for this status are entitled to special laws and treatment under the immigration act.  The application for asylum involves greater protections than the typical immigration status of another applicant seeking to enter the United States.   Although the terms refugee and asylum are used interchangeably there is a distinct difference in category and application status.  Both must prove their case to the United States government.

People seeking asylum status must apply while they are either at a United States border  which may include an airport, border crossing  or  seaport or while they are  already in the country.   Refugees seeking asylum are required to apply to the United States Refugee Admission Program or USRAP.   The USRAP is a program which prioritizes the entrance of refugees to the United States based on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or UNHCR high priority or referred refugee program, The United Nations prioritizes which refugees from which country are referred to the USRAP program,  Refugees may also be referred by a U. S. embassy or an NGO ( a designated nongovernmental organization)

The U.S. will go on to prioritize entrance based on  special humanitarian requirements and then lastly will consider family reunification for refugees with family living in the United States.  While in the United States you must complete a form entitled I-589, Application for asylum and withholding of removal.  You must apply for asylum within one year of your last entrance date into the United States.  You will be declined asylum if you have been denied immigration by an immigration judge or an immigration appeals court  in the past. You will also be barred if there is a safe third party country who the U.S. has an agreement .

Once referred you will be asked to explain by application in detail why you feel persecuted and unsafe in your country of origin. You will be asked to supply an affidavit stating why you are fearful of returning to your country. This should explain your past experiences in your country and the potential harm that could come to you if you return to your country and why you believe this to be the solution. You may also be required to  complete a physical exam as part of a vetting process to determine if you are a threat to the United States. After an application is received you will meet with an overseas asylum officer and the interview will determine if you are eligible for a visa to enter the United States.  If you are denied  entry there is no appeals process.

When applying for asylum it is best to avoid declaration of this at boarder crossings unless this is unavoidable.  If you wish to declare asylum status when arriving at a border you are subject to detention and detaining, At the border you will meet with a USCIS asylum officer where you will be heard as to your credible fears related to returning to your own country.  The asylum officer will determine if your credible fear is sufficient to go before an immigration judge who will grant or deny your asylum status.   If the asylum officer is not in agreement with your status and does not believe you are in fear or danger you will be denied a hearing and then deported.  You many challenge a deportation by asking for an immigration judge to review your case and determine its merit.  There is no appeal to the judges decision, if things are decided in your favor as to asylum you will be granted another court hearing  before a new immigration lawyer.

When applying for this status it is important to prove your case with documentation which may be available in the form of media articles, photos, proof of memberships in organizations which may have triggered any governmental attacks and pertinent medical information.  You must prove the serious conditions exist which will endanger your life in your country of origin.  Documentations conditions which exist while living in the country is important. You may obtain a counsel to assist you with this interview. If you are denied by an asylum officer you may request an hearing of your case with an immigration judge.  These hearings are lengthy and involve interviewing by immigration attorney and your counsel if present.  In this case appeals are still possible with cases which are denied. These appeals are brought before the BIA or board of immigration appeals, then to federal appeals court and even possibly the supreme court.

The process of obtaining asylum status could be a lengthy one requiring much application and documentation process which would best be served with the assistance of a lawyer.  Low income representation could be available through non profit organizations.  It is important to note that the United States does not limit the number of people who enter the country under asylum. The number of successful applicants determines the number of people who obtain asylum status to this country annually. This number is about 20,000 per year.   This is not to be confused with refugee status where there is an annual limit as to the number allowed within the United States annually,